It’s Time for ROCKtoberfest

It’s October, so Washington High School juniors are preparing for ROCKtoberfest. All juniors and guidance counselors come together for two days and participate in making WHS a better place each and every day.

ROCKtoberfest is an activity for WHS Juniors that is meant to explore current issues that all students face as well as provide support and build community among the student body,” said guidance counselor Kelly Richard. 

Every student knows about ROCKtoberfest, but most don’t why it was started in the school. 

“It started in about 2003 when Dr. McCallum invited a group from Rachel’s Challenge to speak to students. Rachel was a student that was killed in the Columbine High School shooting,” Richard said. “She left a diary that her family found explaining how she was working to make a positive difference in her building. Her hope was to establish connections with students who felt alone or disconnected.” 

It was important to WHS to make sure students didn’t feel alone, so people believed that this program was much needed.

“This program was very expensive, so the counseling office (particularly Mr. Strubberg a former counselor), did some research and developed a challenge by choice program for our Juniors,” Richard said. “Every year we work to expand and improve the program. We want our students to feel more connected and positive about their school community when they leave.”

Having this program throughout the years has shown great results, but people ask, why only juniors? 

“With the original program, we could only include one class. Currently, it is so time-consuming, it would be impossible to do with every grade level. Junior year is a time when students often have more adult responsibilities, and they have established habits in and around the school,” Richard said. “It is a great time to re-evaluate and consider some possibilities to improve our campus. Juniors still have more than one year on campus to impact positively.”

The junior class learns important lessons from this program, so counselors have goals that they would like to achieve through the program. 

“We are only looking to challenge students to re-evaluate their actions and beliefs and how they impact themselves and others,” Richard said. “Students are essentially the most important part of our campus, all of them, and we want to give them the opportunity to see that.”

Providing resources for students to make their school a better place is important for change. 

“I think we are trying to encourage students to make the environment they want. The presentation and activities show students their potential for making positive changes in their environment,” Richard said. “It is pretty cool, because each session has its own vibe based on the kids attending and how much they participate.”

All students make an impact on the environment of the program and letting the students decide how they want to do a certain activity can be used in everyday life.

“What students learn or how they grow really depends on them, not what is being presented,” said Richard. “It is kind of organic like that….every session and year is unique, even though we basically present the same ideas year after year.”